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The Most Important Google’s Ranking Factors

The Most Important Google’s Ranking Factors
July 24, 2018

The Most Important Google’s Ranking Factors

Jul 24, 2018
Bhageerath Kommu
Bhageerath is an MBA graduate from University of Wales, UK. He is a passionate digital marketing trainer and a story writer.

Google has prioritised its user higher than your site or brand. To keep it simple, Google wants to help the users visiting your site with useful and relevant information and to make that happen Google uses many metrics to rank your site high and put it infront of the user ultimately. The below image gives us an idea of what a user does when he/she tries to visit a site and how they respond to loading time of a website’s page.

Site Loading - Bounce Rate

Domain Factors

1. Domain Age

There isn’t much difference between the domain of 6 months and the domain of a year old. They do use domain age but ranking is not totally depended on this factor or in other words we can say, this is not very important a factor.

2. Keyword in Domain

Having a keyword at domain level used to be a major booster but now it may seem a little bit pushy and yet it could be a good thing to use though. This could sum up to or even act as a relevancy signal.

3. The First Word in Domain – Keyword

If the target keyword happens to be the first word of domain then this particular keyword supplies you enough fire power than those domains that have no keyword or a keyword in between. Your domain will have edge over others for sure.

4. Keyword in Sub-Domain

Moz’s study reveals that a keyword in sub-domain can contribute to rankings

5. Registration Length of Domain

A Google patent states: “Valuable (legitimate) domains are often paid for several years in advance, while doorway (illegitimate) domains rarely are used for more than a year. Therefore, the date when a domain expires in the future can be used as a factor in predicting the legitimacy of a domain.”

6. History of Domain

If you are certain that you are the first person to own the domain, then there is no problem but if someone sold it you or bought it and you are the new owner, then you might have to deal with the past history of the domain. There could be positive and negative attributes to it but negative does more damage if it were penalized in the past.

7. Exact Match Domain

EMD (Exact Match Domain) or the domain name that matches keyword exactly is called as EMD. You could be in top rankings without much help of Backlinks or any other SEO help but the Google EMD update makes it literally useless if it has low quality. All said and done it still gives a slight edge with relevancy and high quality of site.

8. Country Code TLD Extension

Having the country code Top Level Domain extension like (.in, .ca, .uk) etc., helps ranking in that particular country location but on the other hand it also limits the site’s ability to rank or appear globally.

9. Penalized by, Who the Owner Is

If Google penalized you at some point of time due to the quality or spam issues then there is a high chance of you getting penalized for the other sites owned by you.

Page-Level Factors

10. Keyword in Title Tag

Title tag always plays a role in your search results ranking although not very important but it has something to contribute as an important on page SEO signal.

11. Title Tag Beginning With a Keyword

If at all you have a keyword at the end of the title tag then you have been wasting the opportunity for no reason. Always remember to have a target keyword in title tag and it should be the first word of your title tag as this can prove to be crucial for better performance.

12. Description Tag with Keyword

Even though Google depends less on Meta description tags for ranking, it could still be of some use if your description tag impacts the click through rate for your site because this is a factor for ranking.

13. Keyword in H1 tag

H1 tags actually act as the secondary title tag. Google uses H1 tag along with the title tag for the relevancy purpose. Never miss a chance to have target keyword in your H1 Tag.

14. TF-IDF

TF – IDF (Term Frequency–Inverse Document Frequency) in other words, if a word appears too often it simply means that the document or page is all about that word. Using a word too often to rank can lead to black hat SEO and could be a reason to penalizing which indirectly affects the ranking.

15. Length of the Content

Having more words in content can help you deal better with the information that you wish to present to a user. More words can cover the wider area of the topic you want to talk about. This can contribute to ranking as Google prefers more content that is relevant and not superficial, shorter articles.

16. Linked Table of Contents

Google can understand your content better if you have a linked table of contents which can also result in site links.

17. Keyword Density

Even though it is a minor factor it is still important to place your keyword where required and remember to not go overboard while using it as this process may hurt you just like TF-IDF.

18. Latent Semantic Indexing Keywords in Content (LSI)

LSI keywords can help Google or any other search engines understand and find out the real sense from words that have multiple definitions or meaning.

19. LSI Keywords in Title and Description Tags

This can act as a relevancy signal if the LSI keywords in Title and Description Tags help Google recognise those words with more than one meaning.

20. Topic in Depth

Web pages with more useful information are preferred over the pages with less content. If a page covers all the requisite information it will have an edge over those pages with partial information. Hence cover the topic in depth from all possible corners.

21. Duplicate content

Always write original content, even if it is a product of your excessive research it should look original. Make use of content and try to keep it simple by eliminating any similar content on other pages of your website. Having duplicate content can bring down your ranking.

22. Canonical tag

Always use a canonical tag (Rel=Canonical) as it prevents Google from assuming your content to be duplicate. There is a chance that you have two URLs for same or similar content and this could be duplicate in terms of Google, to make it simple add a canonical tag and by doing so you are clearly stating to Google that One URL is equal to the other. So with two pages of same content are actually one and the same.

23. Image Optimization

Image can act as a ranking factor if it has relevancy to what people are searching for. When we add alt text, caption and description to image it completely transforms in to a different thing altogether. When we make best use of all these small tools our optimization process is always a step ahead of others. We understood that text plays a role but media like images can contribute too.

24. Content Updates

There is no formula to how frequently we have to update our blog but then, it is a good thought to bring in new updates every 12 months because, Google prefers freshly included content.

25. Page Loading Speed via HTML

Search engine spiders can calculate your site speed almost perfectly based on the page’s HTML code. Page loading speed is considered to be a ranking factor.

26. Page Loading Speed via Chrome

There is a chance that Google can also use the Chrome user data to estimate page’s loading time. Here they will estimate how quickly a page loads to user.

27. Entity match

For instance you are searching for one particular thing and a page shows up in results which actually match with what exactly you have searched for. Then, consider this page to improve its ranking further as it was relevant and useful to user. So if a page matches with the user’s search it is called as entity match and it helps in ranking.

28. Keyword Prominence

If you have a targeted keyword in the beginning of your content more precisely in the first hundred words of your page, it directly correlates to Google’s first page ranking.

29. Keyword in H2, H3 Tags

If you can include a keyword as subheading in H2 or H3 format it may be contribute to being another relevancy signal however, it is not the ultimate thing. These heading tags in HTML are useful in understanding the page’s structure.

30. Mobile Usability

Websites that can be used are that are easy to use on mobile have an edge in Google’s mobile-first index.

Off-Page Factors

31. Linking Domains

The number of domains that link to your site act as ranking factor that is why number of linking domains could be crucial for ranking.

32. Linking Pages

To have bulk links from one domain may not be as good as having individual links from different domains.

33. Domain Authority of Linking Page

Always try to get links from high domain authority websites. Every page is not equal to other. When we get links for pages of high domain authority we have better chances of ranking higher. Few important off page factors that could be part of ranking, they are included in the list below;

  • Authority of Linking Domain
  • Link Relevancy
  • Links from a Home Page
  • Do Follow vs. No Follow Links
  • The Diversity of Link Types
  • Contextual Links
  • Link Anchor

Link Factors

34. Outbound links

Too many do follow outbound links will leak page rank and can be a cause for lower ranking.

35. Internal Links Pointing to a Page

The number of internal links to a particular page indirectly relates its importance that it has over other pages.

36. Quality of internal links

When you get internal links from authoritative pages you have better chances of ranking well as it has a stronger effect.

37. Broken links

Only a site abandoned or completely neglected has broken links. If your site has more broken links consider tuning it right away as this could be one of the ways Google uses to assess your site for ranking. Here’s a list of Back Links that could act against or contribute towards your overall ranking.

  • Linking Domain Age
  • Number of Linking Root Domains
  • Number of Links from Separate C-Class IPs
  • Back Link Anchor Text
  • Links from Competitors
  • Alt Tag (image links)
  • Links from Ads
  • Guest Posts
  • Links from Bad Neighbourhoods
  • No- Follow links
  • Sponsored links
  • Too many 301 redirects to page

Site Level Factors

38. Content

Provide value to the visitors with unique insights. Google will penalize sites that don’t offer any value.

39. Contact Us Page

Put up appropriate information to contact you from the site. Make sure to match your who is info to contact details to get an added advantage.

40. Domain Trust/Trust-Rank

Trust-Rank is one of the most important ranking factor or that is what SEO’s nowadays believe.

41. Site Architecture

Help Google organize your content by using a simple to understand site architecture. This you are helping yourself by letting the Google-bots do their job in indexing your site pages.

42. Site Updates

Bring in a freshness factor by updating your site regularly although this may not be the factor as a whole yet it does its bit.

43. Presence of Sitemap

It is easy to index pages of your site for search engines. Visibility is dramatically improved by having a sitemap.

44. Site Uptime

Always check your site maintenance and server issues as it may cause delays in indexing and likewise drop your rankings too.

45. Server Location

When we have a geo-specific search it can influence our ranking and that is why our server location is important factor of ranking.

46. SSL Certificate

With SSL Certificate we will be identified as trustworthy member and Google will consider this fact to rank us well.

47. Duplicate Meta Information On-Site

It is recommended never to have duplicate Meta description anywhere on your site as it may pull down your page visibility and ultimately your rankings as well.

48. User reviews/Site reputation

Your site’s reputation matters a lot. Nobody likes to visit a site with bad reviews over it. And too many bad reviews may reflect in bounce rate and this helps Google understand your site better and it then under rates you by ranking you as low as possible.

User interaction Based

49. Rank-Brain

This is Google’s AI algorithm and it is believed to measure the interaction of users with displayed search results.

50. Organic Click through Rate for Keyword

As per Google, all those pages that get clicked repeatedly by users in Click through rate may have a chance to SERP boost and of course for that particular keyword only. Below is the list of few other ranking contributors based on user interaction;

  • Organic CTR – For all Keywords
  • Bounce Rate
  • Direct Traffic
  • Repeat Traffic
  • Pogo-sticking
  • Blocked Sites
  • Chrome Bookmarks
  • Number of Comments
  • Dwell Time

Google Algorithm Rules

51. Query Freshness

Every new page gets boosted for certain queries and a fresh query can influence your ranking.

52. User Browsing History

When you frequently visit a site it might get SERP boost for all your searches.

53. Featured Snippets

According to one of the SEM-Rush studies, Google prefers Featured Snippets content based on a combination of page authority, formatting, and HTTPs usage, content length etc.

54. Google+ Circles

Google+ might not be your choice of social networking site but remember that Google shows higher results for authors and sites which you have added to your G+ circles. Here is a list of few other Google Algorithm rules to follow;

  • Geo Targeting
  • Safe Search Turned On
  • DMCA Complaints
  • Domain Diversity
  • Transactional Searches
  • Diversity in Query
  • User Search History
  • Local Searches
  • Top Stories Box
  • Brand Preference
  • Shopping Results

Brand Signals

55. Brand Name Anchor Text

This can look simple yet a very strong signal for ranking.

  • Verified Social Media Accounts
  • Brand Mentions on Top Stories
  • Branded Searches
  • Brand + Keyword Searches
  • Facebook Page and Likes
  • Twitter Profile with Followers
  • LinkedIn Company Page
  • Known Authorship

On-Site Webspam Factors

56. Panda Penalty

Any website with low quality content gets penalized by the panda update.

57. Links to Bad Neighbourhoods

Whether by choice or by accident if you happen to link out to a bad neighbour can hurt you visibility.

58. Redirects

If you do not want to be penalized for this please avoid any sneaky redirects.

59. Pop-ups and Distracting Ads

This is very much a sign of low quality site and its officially rated low.

60. Over the Board Site Optimization

Too much can be too bad sometimes in case of keyword stuffing, excessive decoration or even a header tag stuffing.

61. Doorway Pages

Google simply wants you to show the page it sees to the user as well. When you redirect user to other page instead then you get penalized for sure. Below are few other on-site Webspam factors;

  • Auto generated Content
  • Excess Page-Rank Sculpting
  • IP Address Flagged as Spam
  • Meta Tag Spamming
  • Hiding Affiliate Links
  • Fred
  • Affiliate Sites
  • Not Easy to Understand or Gibberish Content
  • Interstitial Pop-ups
  • Ads above the Fold

Off-Site Webspam Factors

62. Unnatural Influx of Links

Avoid influx of links as this may confirm Google that you are doing something fishy to boost your rank.

63. Disavow Tool

Using Disavow Tool can help remove a manual or algorithmic penalty for sites that were the victims of negative SEO practices.

64. Reconsideration Request

When you get penalized if you request for reconsideration there is a chance of lifting the penalty, up on successful request. Have a look at Few more web spam factors below;

  • Penguin Penalty
  • Linking too many Low Quality Links
  • Linking Domain Relevancy
  • Unnatural Links Warning
  • Low-Quality Directory Links
  • Widget Links
  • Links from the Same Class C IP
  • Poison Anchor Text
  • Unnatural Link Spike
  • Links from Articles and Press Releases
  • Manual Actions
  • Selling Links
  • Google Sandbox
  • Google Dance
  • Temporary Link Schemes

Even though Google does not openly state what all factors it uses to rank our site however, it mentions or leaves us clues through the Google Algorithm Updates every now and then. I have tried to include all the search engine optimization factors that might influence your page or site rank depending on what ways you use. Definitely there are many more factors that I might have missed. It would be a great interaction if you can comment below the ones you felt where new to you and try to add those I have missed. If you want to learn the process of search engine optimization (SEO), please check our Certificate Course in Digital Marketing Page.

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